Which is Better, Queenstown or Wanaka?

Trying to choose between Queenstown and Wanaka is like trying to choose a favourite child – impossible! Both have different appeals and cater to different types of ski holidays. Here we outline the differences between the two and leave it up to you to decide.

Central Otago’s twin beating hearts, these stunning alpine towns both sit on the shores of gorgeous lakes, offer incredible mountain views and easy access to world–class ski fields. Look closer though, and you’ll find two towns that feel quite different. Here’s a closer look at both, so you can get started on making that tough decision.


The home of good times, Queenstown is the go-to for those seeking a great night out after a day on the mountain. While the town itself is still relatively compact, Queenstown is packed with enough restaurants and bars to keep you occupied for a whole season, let alone a quick ski break. Add in not one but three different Bungy jumps, plus skydiving, jetboating and a luge, and you’ve got yourself an adrenaline junkie’s paradise.

Skiing in Queenstown, you’ll enjoy the choice of three mountains within a one–hour drive: Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cardrona. From central Queenstown to the top of Coronet Peak takes around 25 minutes, while The Remarkables is around 40 minutes and Cardrona will take just about an hour. Lift passes for either Coronet Peak or The Remarkables also gain you access to the other mountain — bonus!

When you’re ready to unwind, go for a tour of the wineries in Gibbston Valley, take a walk through the beautiful lanes of Arrowtown, or grab some bikes and hit the trails. With such a range of activities on offer, you might be thinking, ‘how could anywhere top this place!?’, well, let’s find out…

Onsen Hot Pools, Queenstown


The yin to Queenstown’s yang, Wanaka takes the pace down a notch and provides the perfect spot for a chilled winter break (excuse the pun). While not as action–packed as Queenstown, Wanaka is arguably even more beautiful and has plenty to explore. Springtime in Wanaka means it’s time to put your walking shoes on — test your fitness with a hike up Mt. Iron, or take a more leisurely walk around the lake’s edge.

Skiing wise, you’re just 20 minutes’ drive from Cardrona, and around 30 minutes to the South Island’s largest and most advanced ski field, Treble Cone. ‘TC’ as it’s known locally offers a vast range of terrain for the intermediate to advanced skier and views over Lake Wanaka that will have your jaw on the floor. Cameras essential!

Wine lover in Wanaka? You’re in luck. Rippon winery just outside the town is known for one of NZ’s finest Pinot Noirs, as well as being one of NZ’s most beautiful wedding venues. And if you want to try those famous Gibbston Valley wines, you can hop in a car and be there in less than an hour.

Roys Peak Walk, Wanaka – Photo: Miles Holden

So, while the choice is never easy, you can rest assured whether you choose to ski in Queenstown or Wanaka that you’ll be in for the trip of a lifetime.

To find out more about ski holidays in Queenstown or Wanaka, contact us today.